Ever since I heard about the infamous Silk Road ‘dark web’ marketplace I wanted to run a ‘dark web’ marketplace. Then Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road’s founder, got a lengthy prison stretch and my cock went floppy over the idea… Until I read a comment on YouTube which provoked me to create the largest Harry Potter fanfiction ‘dark web’ marketplace. I basically became the PornHub of Harry Potter fanfiction.
In case you are unsure who Harry Potter is: Harry Potter is the lead character in a series of 7 fantasy fiction books by female author J K Rowling about a boy wizard who attends a magical school called Hogwarts. In nearly every book he clashes with evil wizard Voldemort, who killed his parents. A series of 8 box office blockbusters were made out of the books which starred Daniel Radcliffe in the role of Harry and Emma Watson in the role of Harry’s sidekick Hermione Granger, a brilliantly clever witch and plot device to keep boys interested. I have read three of the books and seen five of the films, they are absolutely fantastic. I recommend reading or watching a few.
Somehow I came to be on a YouTube video titled “THE GREATEST HARRY POTTER FANFICTION EPIC TALE EVAR!“. It came up on related videos, I think I was watching a Harry Potter trailer beforehand. The title caught me, I suddenly realised how serious the fan community must be behind Harry Potter if people were creating fanfiction because that takes a lot of effort. Before clicking for another video, I browsed through the comments to see how fans responded to such a shoddy video. One of the comments read, “i would pay to see luiz rewrite a harry potter book with his humor. shit would be SO cash.” I WOULD PAY.
I find serious fans of anything absolutely fascinating. It’s remarkable how much people want to exist in a world of fiction; some people are so willing to indulge escapism, they will part with genuine cash to consume counterfeit additions to their wonderland. I googled “Harry Potter fanfiction” and found that most Harry Potter fanfiction is penned by teenage girls (or at least people who claim to be teenage girls) with moody fantasy usernames. Also, erotica — a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction is homosexual erotica between Harry and his nemesis Draco Malfoy, or Hermione having sex with any other female character.
I decided after reading some seriously questionable erotica involving several wand euphemisms, I could make money from selling Potter fanfiction but I didn’t know how yet. I created a new gmail address which was more anonymous than my own name and started emailing the authors asking them how much they charged for commissioned pieces. Every single one of the fifty or so emails I sent out replied back to me in less than 24 hours, with details on prices, how explicit they wanted it to be, which characters, locations. I engaged in some back-and-forth with the writers and asked if they regularly get commissioned to write Harry Potter erotica — it turns out they do, a lot, and people pay very good money for it to this day.
That settled it. I decided I was going to find people who wanted erotic Potter fanfiction, commission pieces from one of the many writers and take a small cut as a finders fee. After a few days of offering my services across forums, the response was unbelievable. I spent the next couple of days replying to emails, talking to clients over the phone and liaising with the writers.
Money started rolling in but it took so much time up. I started to research ways I could streamline the entire process. After a week of reading through unengaging books on ecommerce I felt like less enthused, but I persisted and read industry case studies of business models from traditional offline industries moving their operations online. The fast food industry know how to make things more efficient, hence their namesake. They just want to make it quick and easy for people to order which is why ordering pizza on the internet is so painless, they don’t mess around. It’s all about conversions.
So, I decided I wanted to make buying Harry Potter erotic fanfiction like buying a pizza on the internet. The base would be the locations, the toppings would be the characters, the size of the pizza would be the word count etc (I’ll stop before this analogy kills us both). I bought a server with some bitcoin and set about building a really simple user interface with twitter bootstrap and jQuery, modeled on the domino’s pizza website.
A lesson I’d learnt from the fast food industry, is offer set menu items and allow customers to customise individual elements. So I made a series of “top seller” menu items, in the hope that I could resell versions of the same stories. This also meant I could cut corners and re-use certain elements if they just wanted to change a character in the same way you’d change olives for more pepperoni. So I never sold the same story to the same person twice, if they had ordered it before I would make sure to have an entirely fresh piece commissioned, which increased my catalogue of resellable pieces.
The site was nearly ready, then I had two serious realisations why people don’t make millions selling Potterotica on the internet: Firstly, no payment gateway would want to deal with me, not even PayPal. Secondly, If you start selling Potterotica for a living, you generally don’t want to tell your friends. It’s just not the done thing. Plus, what if they want it? What if they enjoy it? I don’t want to be friends with people who genuinely enjoy reading about Harry “thrusting his long, hard wand” into his ginger friend Ron’s bum.
After weighing up my options I decided to channel my inner Ross Ulbricht, use bitcoin to process payments, and to keep my identity a secret I would host it on the ‘dark web’ instead. At last, I was going to run a ‘dark web’ market, however, instead of making millions of pounds by selling drugs, I would be making a few pounds by selling really crap erotica to Harry Potter fans.
I sent out a mass email to all of my clients with information on what they could look to expect on the website. They thought it was incredible, one person told me the idea was that good they wished I was one of the characters in their recent story. I looked through the email thread and the last piece they ordered was two incredibly powerful Wizards going at it, and felt oddly flattered that I was being imagined as a powerful wizard even if he was getting shafted by Voldemort. Sometimes the only validation you need is a pervert from the internet giving you a compliment — that’s 2015.
As you have probably quite rightly assumed by now, I overestimated the technical prowess of my clientele. Dark web markets and and bitcoins aren’t for everyone, especially people who want to buy potterotica. For less than a week my potter onion was alive. I shut it down and never told anyone, until now. Around the same time I stopped using my Potterotica gmail. Daniel Radcliffe, if you ever read this: I’m sorry.